In my career writing fiction, I’ve emphasized scientific thrillers. Although I always say that the science in my story is sound, and the details of the physical locations have been researched extensively, my tale is entirely fiction. Not so for my latest novel, How Much Do You Love Me?
For this historical novel that revolves around the Japanese Interment of World War II, I’m proud to say that, except for my fictional characters and their fictional story, 99% of what happens to the characters in my book actually happened to real people. Because much has been written about the Bellevue, Washington, Japanese community that was torn apart by the internment, I set my fictional family within that community. Many from that community were sent to the Pinedale Assembly Center and then on to the Tule Lake Relocation Center, both in California. I decided that my characters would follow that path.
With this in mind, you can imagine my delight last month when I opened a hand-written letter from someone who had followed that same route. And she, Miyoko Saiki, lives near me, here on the Monterey Peninsula! Here is her letter:
May 22, 2016
Dear Mr. Tag,
I just finished reading your novel about the evacuation of the Japanese in 1943. I was also born in Bellevue and went to Pinedale and Tule Lake as you wrote. I was 14 at the time— it brought back many memories.
I went to school in Tule Lake and graduated in Heart Mountain, Wyoming, after the segregation. I left camp and went to Cleveland to find work and stayed there from 1944 to 1952. I met my husband George who was born in Monterey. We came here for a vacation and moved back.
I don’t know how you learned so much about what we went through. It was a terrible experience. Pinedale was over 100 degrees. When we left Bellevue it must have been in the 50’s. In Tule Lake we went to school typing class with no typewriters. Our Spanish class teacher would not let me speak English in the room—so we spoke Japanese!
The author then goes on to ask me how she could get an additional copy of the book. She concludes: Thank you, Miyo Saiki
The “segregation” that Miyo refers to in her letter occurred after the infamous “Yes/Yes, No/No” question that had been asked of all internees as part of the “Loyalty Questionnaire.” Those who responded no/no were considered to be potential troublemakers and sent to Tule Lake. Those who responded yes/yes were given the opportunity to move to another of the ten camps. Miyo moved to Heart Mountain, Wyoming. The characters in my book moved to Minidoka, Idaho.
Upon receiving Miyo’s (Miyo is short for Miyoko) letter, I telephoned her immediately. I met her at her house and, later, we had lunch together with my wife, Becky. The photo above was taken at the lunch.
Miyo is a delightful, interesting, and pleasant person to be around and converse with. Because she was already fourteen at the time, Miyo has clear memories of her internment experience. To my surprise, she is a DEVOTED San Francisco Giants baseball fan. We agreed that another visit might be in order sometime.
This post was written by paulmarktag